The Lawrence Common Council approved an ordinance Nov. 6 to repeal some city business permit fees, a first step in a process to revamp the city’s business permitting process.
The proposal was reviewed during a Code Committee meeting just before the regular council meeting. The ordinance revokes permit fees for social clubs, skating rinks, concert halls and theaters, taxicabs and drivers, massage therapists and bathhouses, cable operators, and auctions and special sales.
The original proposal also revoked permit fees for day cares and door-to-door sales, but those businesses were removed from the proposal at the request of the Lawrence Police Department, citing safety concerns. Police want to know where day cares are located, and who is going door to door in the community.
City Engineer Sri Venugopalan, who oversees the Department of Public Works, said he’s generally in favor of the ordinance. He said some of the permit requirements were put in place before the state had established its own regulations.
“This permit for massage (therapy), I understand the state mandates (that they) obviously have been licensed and stuff, which 10 years ago, it was nothing,” he said. “Now they have stepped up and the licensing is very strict now.”
He noted that the city’s permit fees were not evenhanded, with some business types paying $25 a year and others paying much more. Although he supports relaxing the permit requirements and reducing some fees, Venugopalan said the city needs to be aware of what businesses are out there.
He said the ordinance is a step in the right direction, and the city can continue to clean up its business permitting regulations.
Councilmember Deb Whitfield, who sponsored the ordinance, suggested that the city consider a general business permit in the future, rather than multiple permits for different types of businesses.
The committee voted to recommend approval of the ordinance to the full council, which ratified the ordinance.
Also during the Nov. 6 meeting, the council unanimously approved a resolution honoring Col. Richard Pedersen, who died Sept. 22 at the age of 85.
The resolution notes that Pedersen served in Germany and Vietnam before returning to the United States and serving at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence. He retired in 1987 and became a civilian Certified Public Accountant. Among his military awards were two Legion of Merits, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.